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YOUR WORD IS A LAMP TO MY FEET

Psalm 119:97-119:112
Key Verse: 119:105

Last week, at an international congress of Mathematician, four mathematicians won the Fields Medal, known as the Nobel Prize in mathematics. They showed their great accomplishment by solving very complicate math problems. Thinking about our life, we face difficult problems that seem much more difficult than mathematical problems that we can’t solve by ourselves. But, through today’s psalm study, we will learn that the words of God have answers to all our problems. I pray that God may bless this message and help us to have more desire to know his words.

Part I. I meditate on your law all day long.

Look at verse 97 “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” The psalmist confessed his love for the words of God. We all love something. We spend much time doing something we love such as chatting, cooking, playing sports, internet surfing etc. Then what is the measurement of our love toward these things? It is thinking. How much we think shows how much we love and care. When M. Susanna went to Hong Kong conference, M. James said “I thought about her all day long” So, the psalmist’s confession means a lot. “I meditate on it all day long” His heart was fixed to the words of God. Thinking about our life, at the time of peace, many things tempt and make us waste our time. On the other hand, in trouble-filled days, it is also easy to stick to our problem itself. So, we are prone to think on something that gives us pleasure or anxiety. But the psalmist in this passage overcame such temptation and anxieties by focusing on the words of God. And he loved the words of God saying “Oh, how I love your law!”

Why did the psalmist love the words of God so much? The words of God revealed who God is to him. He wanted to know God deeply and personally. With such novel desire, he meditated on the words of God. We are influenced by what we read, hear and watch. These things affect our thoughts and view. When the psalmist meditated the words of God, his view on God became mature and deep. His spiritual desire for the words of God continued to grow until he could meditate them all day long. The bible says “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” Such a person was the psalmist.

What was the result of his special love for the words of God? Verse 98-100 “Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statues. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts” Who are teachers and elders? Teachers are intelligently trained and elders have deep understanding about life through many experiences. But the psalmist had more insight and understanding than those people. Normally, in order to become an insightful person with better understanding, one must have a great deal of education and experiences. But the psalmist confessed that through life with the words of God, he grew in wisdom, insight, and understanding which were better than that of enemies, teachers, and elders.

One best example can be found in the book of Daniel. Daniel and his friends were only teenagers when they were taken as POW (prisoners of war) to Babylon. However, when they decided to follow God’s commandments and eat vegetables to keep their purity, God granted them knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. The king Nebuchadnezzar tested their qualification with many tough interview questions. These rookie advisors showed wisdom and understanding ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. They were wiser than academic giants in Babylonia whose science and culture was most advanced in those days. Was it because the vegetable they ate was special herb? It was because they honoured God and his commandments while others did not. Although their enemies were advanced in the world, they were spiritually poor. But Daniel and his friends were far better than them because they had the words of God. This shows superiority of the words of God over human wisdom, intelligent power and understanding.

Proverbs 1:7 says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” When we acknowledge God and keep his commandments, we can grow in wisdom because we know God who tells the origin and the end of the world and all fundamental life problems. Thinking about Jesus’ youth time, he loved the words of God. So, when he was just twelve years old, he had three days’ bible conference with teachers. He questioned and listened to them. People who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. The bible emphasized that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature. The source of wisdom is the words of God.

We live in generations flooded with a great deal of information. We can be accessible to various information in a second using our phone and computer. Much information seems to enrich our life and give us convenience. But more information and experience do not necessarily make people wise and insightful. Six year old little girl was invited to her friend’s family and looked around the bookshelf and found that there was no bible. She asked “why you don’t have the bible? I have several bibles and already read one five times.” The parents said “we don’t read the bible” and she said “you should buy one. It is very important book. It is about God” Later, when she watched a science documentary movie with them, she heard that the narrator in the movie said “There is no God.” She was shocked and right away responded, “That’s lie and not true. God is real.”

Without knowing the words of God, man’s insight and understanding of the world cannot be correct. Standard of right and wrong becomes so vague. But, through the psalmist, we learn how to live in ungodly environment. He gained the wisdom and insight from the words of God. So, he could keep himself from every evil path so that he might obey God’s word. His relationship with God also went stronger, saying “I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.”

When he meditated the words of God, what was his confession about them? Look at verse 103 “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Message version says “Your words are so choice, so tasty; I prefer them to the best home cooking.” Honey is the sweetest food found in nature and sweeter than our table sugar in our days. Due to the sweetness, people have used them many years.

People love sweet things and also want to live sweet life like honey. So we call many things using the word “sweet”: sweet home, sweet dream, sweet heart, sweetie. We want to increase sweetness of life by involving many different things as our honey for life. We make effort to make our life very sweet. But it does not go well as we wish. We taste bitterness of our life than sweetness when we struggle in troubles from many parts of life at work, home, and school.

The psalmist suffered much. It could give him strong bitterness of life. However, as we see from his confession, he could overcome the bitterness with strong sweetness of the words of God. The word of God is sweet!! Such sweetness makes us stronger and healthier so that we can overcome our life troubles. The psalmist tasted such sweetness through deep meditation and obedience. What make the words of God so sweet? What are ingredients of the words of God? I It contains 100% truth, 100% pure love, and 100% goodness that makes our life alive. For instance, in the book of Genesis, God saw all that he made and it was very good. This word made so many people taste great sweetness of his words.

Look at verse 104, when the psalmist tasted the words of God, he said “I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.”God gave us his precious words to enable us to live in a right way. The more we meditate, we gain understanding. We can continue to grow in his words.

Part II. Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light for my path.

Let’s read v 105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” In the past, when people went out at night, they had to bring a lamp so that they might not lose their footing and get lost. When he meditated on the words of God, he saw how dark the world is. It was the reality of this world. In his suffering and danger, he also lived in a critical situation without knowing what would happen next day.

Darkness is our fundamental problem. People suffer in darkness because they don’t know where they are and where to go. Under the power of sin and death, people live helplessly. Man’s sin makes this world grow darker and destroy their life in the end. The bible listed many different people who showed their dark life conditions; the woman who was caught in adultery thus to be stoned to death, the woman who had marriage problem with five husbands, and many sick people with various diseases. Nicodemus, a religious leader, a member of Sanhedrin and a teacher also had deep darkness in his heart and came to Jesus at night. A rich young man also came to Jesus and asked how he can inherit the kingdom of God. Whether highly renowned or lowly or man or woman, rich or poor, healthy or sick, all mankind live in darkness.

But, how do people try to escape from their darkness problem? For instance, many think darkness comes from the poverty and it can be solved through money. They believe that their poor conditions can be resolved through having something better. So, people struggle to make their life richer and better. Students expect a better life through securing a better position after graduation. People think that their life can be brighter and better by having dream job, promotion, success, and well-being life. In some moments, these can work. However, it cannot solve our problem. It is known that many lottery winners’ lives became notably worse after they became super rich. Husband and wife argued more about money. Relationship with family and friends became broken. Some winners went bankrupt within some years. One Ontario single mom received ten million dollars. But after she spent money for new house, new car, and cloths, in less than a decade, she went back riding the bus, working part-time and lived in a rented house. So, many winners like her confessed “I wish lottery winning never happened”.

So, how can we resolve our darkness problem? The psalmist found the solution. He said “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Through his meditation and obedience to the words of God, he deeply found the light through the words of God, which cast our all his darkness. Think about the mathematicians mentioned in my introduction, how did they feel when they solved the difficult questions? When the psalmist found the light from the words, he could have great joy. He felt so secured and knew where he can go. He could understand the meaning of his suffering and the will of God in his life path.

Like the sun giving its light to the earth, the words of God give light to drive out all elements of our darkness and to perform his great work. Through Luke’s gospel, we learned how the words of God overpower the darkness in our critical situation. When Jairus heard that her daughter was dead, he might feel the sky falls. Jesus spoke to him. “Don’t be afraid, just believe” Jesus’ word was greater than humanly impossible, and helpless situation. Indeed, Jesus raised the girl from the dead.

In our troubled life, we may feel doubt, confusion, and fear. But the word of God is the light which shines our heart. So when we accept one word of God deeply, the word shines our heart and life. There is one famous painting called “The Light of the World” by William Holman Hunt (1827- 1910). The painter was so moved by John 8:12 "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." His friends saw the picture and wondered one thing. “In this door, there is no doorknob. How can Jesus enter the door? You need to fix it” But he said “There is only one doorknob and it’s on the inside. Jesus is waiting for us to open the door of our hearts and welcome him in.”

Similarly, in order to receive the light of the words of God, we must open up our heart and mediate and obey them like the psalmist (106). Peter also said “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”(2 Peter 1:19). We may engage in such spiritual struggling and receive the words of God very personally.

When the psalmist’s heart was full of light despite his suffering, what was his response to God? Read v 107-108 “I have suffered much; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word. Accept, O LORD, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws.” He was not ruled by the darkness. If so, his mouth might pour out all his troubles and complaints. But instead, his heart was bright and his mouth was full of joy, thanks and grace to God who has led him step by step in his best way. He burst out with praise from his heart. He offered God willing praise as his best offering. What could make him give such praise to God in the midst of suffering and troubles? It was the words of God. So, the psalmist asked God again “teach me your laws, though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law.” (v109)

In verse 111, he said “You statues are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.” MSG version says “I inherited your book on living; it’s mine forever-what a gift! And how happy it makes me!” The bible is truly a great gift from God. It is our heritage to our next generations. House and bank accounts are not our true heritage. Last time, M. Susanna sent me an interesting story. People say that life is equalized to everyone in their 60th, 70th, and 80th. In our 60th, occupation is equal to everyone due to retirement. In our 70th, health is equalized due to sickness. In our 80th, life is equalized because of death. Thinking of this life path, what can we claim as our heritage? What we depended on and worked for will become nothing. But the words of God remain generation after generation. The word of God is truly our heritage and joy of our hearts forever. The psalmist said “My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.” (V 112) In the time of adverse situation, his journey of life was shaken through hitting by many waves of problems. But he could maintain his journey to the end through having the words of God in his hearts. We will also meet various problems in our life path. But we can also keep our life of faith to the end by having the words of God.

In conclusion, may God help us to love the words of God more and more. We may open up our hearts and meditate them in all circumstance. It will constantly provide us sweetness and shining light to our heart and life. Let us strive to put the words of God in the centre of our personal life, family, and his church.

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